8 Hit TV Shows and Their Hidden Political Messages


Spoiler free

13 Reasons Why

In the wake of the suicide epidemic, taking the lives of millions of ordinary people and celebrities like Anthony Bourdain alike, many psychologists worry that 13 Reason Why, the most popular show of 2017, may be contributing to the death toll.

The show glorifies suicide, depicting the attention one girl, tormented and ignored in life, could receive after death. Moreover, the central premise of 13 Reasons that led this girl to taking her life teaches viewers to shirk responsibility and blame others for our lives’ problems.

All stages of life, high school included, can be challenging and wrought with bullying and heartbreak. Yet the lesson we should be teaching our most vulnerable is not to take revenge and blame others for their misgivings, but to actively work and seek help to improve our own lives.

Game of Thrones

This hit show of 2016 first reached acclaim as an alternate reality, medieval world besieged by a power struggle between houses and regions (Starks vs Lannisters, etc.) culminates in assassination, war and devastation. We are given a first-hand perspective of how power corrupts and how greed can drive leaders like Cersei to engage in treachery and war that improves their own well-being while jeopardizing the lives of their populace. We also witness the dangerous role that religion and xenophobia can play in enabling tyranny, war and exploitation of the masses.

Finally, as the show climaxes in a deciding war between the forces of life and death, we see how the petty quarrels over authority have left the human world entirely unprepared to face real challenges. Although there are no night-walkers and dragons in our world, we can still heed the advocated skepticism of authority and war, lest we allow our society to lose its great battle against death.


This convoluted, artificial intelligence thriller doesn’t pull punches, laying bear many of its hidden meanings and existentialist musings. Among the menagerie of messages are questions of what it means to be human, from where our rights derive, and why we as a species are so prone to violence and evil.

Ford, the mastermind behind the robot revolution, bestows upon his creations free will in the hopes that they can overtake the humans and create a kinder future. Humanity, in the meantime, hopes to exploit the robot technology to secure their own immortality.

Westworld leaves us to ponder whether, in the coming centuries, humans alone deserve rights. It also forces us to reflect on whether our personal actions are driven by the same violent, basal tendencies that lead our society to war and crime.

NCIS, CSI, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Law and Order

This most popular genre of television drama depicts an America plagued by crime, where only a talented, moralistic group of law enforcement can secure order and justice.

What such shows fail to depict is that the US homicide rate is at an all-time low, while law enforcement abuse such as civil forfeiture, unnecessary force and even manslaughter at an all-time high. There are, undoubtedly, countless valiant trial lawyers, police officers, and detectives that serve our country — yet there services are not needed nearly as often as these shows would have you believe.

The Americans

The FX hit which recently ended its five-year run had viewers sympathizing with a pair of Soviet sleeper agents, hiding in plain sight, killing Americans, and stealing government secrets in our nation’s capital.

While it is an incredibly historically accurate portrayal, the idea of sleeper agents is largely irrelevant in the present day. In fact, the show perpetuates paranoid Russophobia, which may contribute to the thus-far unproven accusations of collusion embattling the Trump administration. If we hope to improve our standing and relations around the world and avoid unnecessary conflict, we should be burying the transgressions of the past, not muddying the waters with long-forgotten sins.

Do you have a favorite TV show that you want to see ruined by libertarian sociological analysis? Comment and share on Facebook and I will be sure to watch and over-analyze it!

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Adam Barsouk

Adam Barsouk is a student of medicine and health policy at Jefferson Medical College and a cancer researcher at the University of Pittsburgh. His family’s escape from the Soviet Union, and his experiences in the lab and the clinic, have inspired him to restore liberty to healthcare and the other depraved sectors of American life.